Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The New Year

Why do we celebrate the New Year?

Is it simply our desire to close off something and open up another? Is it a desire for a new beginning, yet we know it is not going to be new? Why do we keep deluding ourselves with a hope we know as hollow as the trunk of a dying oak tree? Why is all this show? Is it the show must go on or is it there is nothing but a show? Or is it simply a long for continuum drives us in expense of an annoying triviality?


On reflection it has been an ordinary year made of extraordinary things. The world, with all of its absurdities, continued to exist. Every piece of news made us baffled, made us indifferent at the same time. Boredom arrived in a package of sanity, as we became immune to insanity. I wish you all a different year in 2015, I really do.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Human Condition

Human condition is what it means to be a human, our self awareness, our skepticism, our independence, our curiosity, our desire for gratification, above all our truthfulness.

Sometime in our evolutionary lineage, starting from babyhood, we learned deception, to camouflage our true intent, to gain advantage and increase our chance of survival without being detrimental to wellbeing of the clan. Our true self remains hidden under a thick veneer of lies, so much so that, today we only use the word “lie” to refer to inconvenient ones.

But the human condition has a darker side, a vulnerability, our limited ability to remain truthful to ourselves. Perhaps being untruthful to others has become such an integral part of survival, we became prone to apply it to ourselves, by that we did not realise what we lost was the very essence, the very meaning of human condition.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Office Horror

The office is where we hang our identity on a coat hanger when we get there, and wear it back when we leave.

Essentially we sell our self along with our work, in return for cash. The office is a small scale North Korea, where we are constantly reminded of values and behaviours of the corporate propaganda paying us.

Just about everybody, including party leaders play a game, day after day, a game that everybody spends every effort to pretend it is real.

In this play, often in subtle ways, we allow ourselves to be threatened, bullied and pacified, we allow emotional rape and pillage, we are dragged to say things we don’t believe, do things do not fit us.

We long for five o’clock to pick up and wear our identity back from the coat hanger, only to have a break for sixteen hours, delusional to the extent to believe that we are free at last, in this never-ending play.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Freedom of being ordinary

 I find two moral convictions problematic; we are special, and life has purpose. 

Challenging them, is a moral obligation and a liberating necessity, not only they are false, but they restrict our true freedom, freedom to criticize conventions, including the freedom of being ordinary and freedom of setting our lives to have no specific purpose.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Ants

The Australian office worker first lost her epic cubicle, down the drain went her privacy, the spot she put her kid’s painting. The partitions got smaller and smaller, the chairs got closer and closer. We became like ants, look alike, always busy, typing, emailing, talking, thinking, moving around for the Queen. Finally they removed partitions, and placed everyone around long tables, made everyone sit next to each other, and back to back. No personal space, no personal seat, when you come to work, sit wherever you find. Then some smart employee, shrieked “Eureka!”, it wasn’t necessary to keep one chair per one employee. After all, not all ants are present at all times, some are sick, some are on holidays, thought the smart employee. They removed more chairs, and placed remaining chairs closer and tighter. In case more ants come to work unexpectedly, they built “hot seats”, fancy name for a punishment, folded trays that come out of walls, so that ants can email, talk and think while standing, until a chair becomes available, around the big long table. The employee who shrieked “Eureka!” got “Ant of the Year” award from the Queen and received a movie ticket for The Ants.        

In this satirical short story I criticised the modern capitalistic workplace how inhumanely the modern office is designed, and how pathetic our lives have become.

The secret of happiness

The secret of happiness is doing something fun and useful at the same time, doing it in a way like there is no tomorrow, dream on it, work on it, in the shower, on the train, in a park, and before you go to sleep, fight relentlessly, when you fall refuse to surrender, bounce back and fight, persist till you win, deserve your win.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Barking in the dark

Renowned “scholar” Reza Aslan calls Harris, Dawkins anti-theists, and as dogmatic, fundamentalist as true believers. He adds “Sam Harris and “New Atheists” aren’t new, aren’t even atheists”

Here is the link to Reza Aslan’s article published in Salon:

I disagree with Aslan's sentiment that "New Atheists give Atheism a bad name".

Atheism and Anti-Theism are not mutually exclusive, and combining them in one name "New Atheism" is perfectly fine. Why would it be bad? On what ground?

Aslan recognises closet Atheism. A non-political, passive stance, scared to raise its voice, and gets along with religions by “respecting” them.

So long as Atheists lock themselves in a closet and they respect religions they are OK and they can be recognised as just “Atheists”, like a harmless religion.

Atheists for centuries had to hide themselves from religious oppression by simply being low profile. They still have to go under cover in religious societies.

Aslan resorts to polemics by saying:

“In other words, while an atheist believes there is no god and so follows no religion, an anti-theist opposes the very idea of religious belief, often viewing religion as an insidious force that must be rooted from society – forcibly if necessary.”

Wikipedia accurately defines New Atheism as follows:

“New Atheism is a social and political movement in favour of atheism and secularism promoted by a collection of modern atheist writers who have advocated the view that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”

In other words no anti-theist in their good mind is suggesting “religions should be rooted from society - forcibly if necessary”.

Aslan is simply making one of his false generalisations about Anti-Theism and New Atheism to give them a bad name.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Drawers

I have recently developed a habit, reflecting on my life, while swimming. Surrounded by motherly embrace of water has become a helpful, soothing and mindful experience.

Lately I have been thinking about change a lot.

From birth onwards we are taught to play roles. We choose careers, spouses, friends by means of role playing. Our so called character is shaped via role playing.

Humans are pattern searchers; classifying is big part of our survival strategy. In our mind we build drawers: “liar”, “reliable”, “knowledgeable”, “ignorant”, “friend”, “enemy”. Then we put everyone we meet into one of those drawers.

It will take awful amount of effort to break our convictions we hold about someone. Change is considered suspiciously. We hardly shuffle contents of drawers.

Like everyone else we are being constantly put into one drawer or another in others’ minds. Therefore subconsciously our struggle becomes reflecting the familiar and consistent patterns of behaviour that would match our role, the convenient drawers we are placed in.

We also have drawers in our mind for ourselves. I call them self-drawers. Self-drawers are the ones that matter most, but often they are the most neglected ones. Our concern about being misplaced in an unsuitable drawer in others’ minds is often the most overwhelming force.

Failure creates opportunities for us to go ahead and change our self-drawer.

Changing our self-drawer often becomes a liberating experience. The key is ability to reflect on our lives, where we are at, and whether we are content with our self-drawer. Then all it takes is to pull the knob and make the change.

So next time you go for a swim how about thinking about your self-drawer.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New apps

App Store has millions apps. Great majority of them operates with deterministic algorithms.

Recently we have begun to see a new breed of apps, the ones that allegedly have Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning capabilities.

Why is this shift?

Actually we already have AI. The humble spam-filter your email server uses is one of the oldest and the most sophisticated AI machines humans invented. Imagine a person sitting in your mail-box, sorting genuine mails from subtle versions of Nigerian scam. This is not straight-forward right? So that’s what a new age spam-filter is, much more sophisticated than we presume.

Today a typical consumer is distracted by perils of techno-consumerism. Photos have to be synced between wife’s iPad, and hubby’s Mac Book, Messages have to be answered and cleaned up, emails need to be answered, notifications need to be OK’ed. Events need to be added to calendars, plumbing fix need to be added to the to-do list. Address books need to be synced. Batteries need to be monitored and devices need to be charged. The list goes on and on.

So there is a growing demand for smarter apps, as the clutter mountain we need to deal with grows, apps that would help cut some of our burdens.

What if a to-do list, learns your habits and adds items into your grocery list on your behalf? What if your messages are answered by your secretary app? Any app that saves you time will likely to be a winner.

Welcome AI consumerism. Destination stupidity.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Library

Being in a Public Library, surrounded by towers of books makes me humbled and elevated at the same time.

“Knowledge is sacred” my high school Physics teacher used to say. He was an Atheist, a model Humanist to the bone.

The Public Library is a quiet place, where we let our Reason to guide us in acquiring Knowledge.

Books after books, pages after pages, we find Knowledge is stacked, generously offered, reaching us from memories of our mortal ancestors who felt they needed to share what they knew.

Behind every book we browse, every page we turn, there had been hardship of some sort. Sleepless nights, Censorship, Inquisition, Torture, Vandalism, Wars, Fires.

Books made it before where we stand, despite odds and evil intentions, thanks to sacrifices made by their authors and protectors. This is why I feel so humbled every time I visit a library.

Humanity excels with Knowledge, in this sense and considering all aforementioned hardship behind it, yes, Knowledge is sacred and evolving.

We all have responsibility to nurture Knowledge and pass it on intact to future generations if we care about wellbeing of Humanity beyond our times.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A video tells a billion words

They say a picture tells a thousand words. I say a video tells a billion words.

Jony Ivy, English designer and the Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, introduced the new iWatch in another highly captivating video. Watching it, it is impossible not to fall for it.

It is evident that the iWatch video is crafted like no other advertisement video. It is mesmerising, seductive and futuristic.

No doubt like other advertisements the video fulfils its function to hide the inconvenient, such as, you still need to carry an iPhone in order to access the Internet. So iWatch is not really a truly stand alone wearable.

With IOS8, Apple now demands developers to include a product video in the App Store. This is a welcoming change from marketing perspective. Product videos are now widely used in start up companies’ home pages. They give app developers a unique opportunity to communicate how the app works and why it is different.

Apple also wants to raise the bar in the App Store business. There are now over a million apps in the App Store, majority of which are ordinary, amateur looking or low quality products with poorly communicated features. Creating a professional looking video is not an easy task. Perhaps with this move Apple is aiming to curb lone developers and favour professional teams formed by more serious start up ventures.

Times are changing. The lone developer is more lonesome than ever. It is no longer possible to avoid professional Marketing tools if app developers want to be heard. To make an impact you need a team.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Change is the most fundamental rule of our Universe. Despite our  occasional refusal, we change, not just physically but in character as well.

So it may as well be that the holly grail to the road to happiness, is to embrace the change, in fact strive for change with a welcoming smile, and never stop changing thereafter.

The most beautiful aspect of getting older is a whole new gate opens up before us.

One day you wake up and suddenly realise you don’t have much time left. This is the moment when you would decide to change profoundly. This is the point of ultimate enlightenment, the moment to seize.

You no longer have to put up with toxic relationships, you simply leave those who bothered you behind. You no longer care what others think. You no longer have to prove yourself to anybody. You simply start walking like you never walked before.

It is as if you cleaned up your living room from clutter and old furnitures. You are lying in an empty room, hearing gentle beating of your heart, while watching the sky behind the concrete ceiling.

This change gives you ultimate freedom and quality time you did not have when you were younger, a welcoming change indeed.

You would have more time to think and enjoy the life.

So embrace the change I say, the sooner, the better.

"The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." - Michel Foucault

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Three decades ago when my career began as a software engineer, we had a very different world.

Before the age of Internet when we needed to learn a new language or  make ourselves familiar with a new piece of software we had four main issues; the amount of data was scarce, the variety of data was poor, the tools to mine data were few, and collaboration with other programmers was non-existent.

For example, to learn the language C, one had no option but read the classic book “The C Programming Language” by B.Kernighan and D.Ritchie, from its Preface to Index pages, line by line. It was and it still is one of my favorite books that influenced my generation and few others after us.

But learning the language as a practitioner was a different ball game. The language was just a tool, we needed to learn new techniques, examples, and good practices that show us how to use that tool effectively, and that was missing.

Today the entire landscape of programming changed dramatically.

What is strikingly evident that the scale and complexity of problems we need to solve increased, whereas the amount of time we and computers have remained the same. But to compensate for time-work imbalance we now have access to huge amount of data, we have huge amount of variety in data, we have rich set of tools, including new algorithms, proven design patterns, and we have collaboration methods at our disposal on a massive scale.

So all of this came down to a single mindset a modern programmer must possess today; “Hacking”.

Wikipedia defines Hacking as follows:

"The act of engaging in activities (such as programming or other media) in a spirit of playfulness and exploration is termed hacking."

Hacking gives you the edge, the advantage you otherwise would loose against time. It is no longer optional or limited to an elite group of enthusiasts, hacking became the necessity and the norm of our era.

Nowadays I hack all the time. I no longer read thick manuals or books but I Google programming questions, I go to Stack-overflow website, cut and paste code from there, I fork other projects from GitHub, I collaborate with other programmers whom I never met. The idea is, if the information is out there and accurate, it would be plain stupid to re-invent it. Open Source, copying, sharing are the new cool, practicing and exploring via massive collaboration is “now” and “the future”.

Hacking is a game changer so much so that it deserves to have its own 101 course in Freshman curriculum.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


What is astonishing in this incomplete self portrait of Claude Monet is the level of precision and integrity.

Proportions and placements of incomplete parts, hands, knees, legs, wrinkles of the jumper, the positioning of the body, the light, the colours are just perfect. You can see the undrawn. The "soul" is there. Nothing looks awkward. Despite its incompleteness and impressionist style it gives one a true sensation of a living person.

This is much superior than say today's hyper-realistic drawings we see mushrooming across the Internet. In those images the precision is achieved by photographic imitation, in this one it is a natural, one in a billion talent with soul.

Claude Monet - self portrait

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Quick presentation tips

                   #479280419 /

  • Keep your presentation at 3 minutes sharp
  • Timing is everything be precise
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, until you get your timings near perfect 
  • No slide should take longer than 30 seconds to present
  • Take questions after

  • Deliver problem, your mission, your solution, your plan
  • Keep it simple and crisp across the board
  • Keep your format consistent
  • Keep your flow natural
  • Pay attention to page composition, get space vs. content balance right
  • In the middle insert one related meme image with good sense of humour, do not overdo, show this image for 2-3 seconds, not more.
  • Avoid excessive clipart
  • Avoid transition effects
  • Use bullet points and indentation for presenting hierarchy, not deeper than 2.
  • Keep statements short and simple, max 3 statements per page, 2 is best.
  • Avoid indirect speech and adverbs
  • Use order clauses "Implement..." rather than "We would like to implement..."
  • Avoid repetitions

Say yes learn how to do it later

In his blog Richard Branson wrote:
If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!

                                #141269731 /

This is yet another manifestation of "fail fast, learn quickly" motto which has been the driving force of "lean startup model".


Sunday, March 30, 2014


In 2002, My bother and I, in a hotel room in Canberra, were listening to Turkish radio. The commentator announced “land-slide victory” of Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning the Turkish general elections. I cannot forget that grim expression on my brother’s face, he said “This is the End”.

Further back, I migrated to Australia in 1989, quarter a century ago, not because I had fascination with its natural beauties, and welcoming people, which are undoubtedly true, but because I felt I had irreconcilable and painful differences between my philosophy and the one imposed by the mainstream Turkish culture I had grown up with.

Regardless, I continued to admire Turkish people who shared similar values with me and who are sufficiently educated and wise to follow a more tolerant and humanistic life view, through which a strong sense of “fairness” remained the common denominator.

There is a beach in Gündoğan Bodrum, one my favorite spots in Turkey. It has a picturesque mosque standing next to beaches, and cafes, where waves of gentle Aegean Sea, caressing its white walls.

I like that mosque. It is tiny, loveable, simple, rural and unpretentious. But it is more than a mosque. Surrounded by beaches where tourists sunbath, and cafes where you have a beer to enjoy the sunset, for me, this area is the Nirvana of Humanity.

A pious Muslim praying inside, and I am, being an Atheist,  sipping my beer in a neighbouring café, without bothering each other. Sharing the same air, being fair to each other. This was the Turkey I would never have left behind.

This Sunday there are local elections in Turkey. These elections are critical, a moment of truth, a great reckoning.

Either my compatriots will re-elect a corrupt, vicious, incompetent, intolerant, arrogant, divisive dictator or they say “enough is enough”, crash open the iron gate they let built twelve years ago, and rediscover their centuries old virtues, tolerance and fairness.

It is in this perspective I am with virtuous people of Turkish land, religious or not. So long as we remain faithful to “fairness”, a much better future will be ours and our children’s.

As always, there may be something to learn from bad dreams. But nightmares are nightmares. Life is real and meant to be beautiful.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Einstellung effect

"Einstellung is the development of a mechanized state of mind. Often called a problem solving set, Einstellung refers to a person's predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though "better" or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist. The Einstellung effect is the negative effect of previous experience when solving new problems. 
The Einstellung effect occurs when a person is presented with a problem or situation that is similar to problems they have worked through in the past. If the solution (or appropriate behavior) to the problem/situation has been the same in each past experience, the person will likely provide that same response, without giving the problem too much thought, even though a more appropriate response might be available. Essentially, the Einstellung effect is one of the human brain's ways of finding an appropriate solution/behavior as efficiently as possible. Note, however, that although finding the solution is efficient, the solution found might not necessarily be the most appropriate solution. 
Luchins and Luchins looked at the relationship between the intelligence quotient (IQ) and the Einstellung effects for the children in their original experiment. They found that there was a statistically insignificant negative relationship between the Einstellung Effect and Intelligence. In general, large Einstellung effects were observed for all subject groups regardless of IQ score. When Luchins and Luchins looked at the IQ range for children who did and did not demonstrate Einstellung effects, they spanned from 51 to 160 and from 75 to 155 respectively. These ranges show a slight negative correlation between intelligence and Einstellung effects.
 Sounds familiar? How many times I have fallen in this trap, who knows?

I wonder if human mind can be trained to overcome negative effects of Einstellung effect.

Resource: Wikipedia - Einstellung Effect

Monday, January 27, 2014

In honour of Joseph Gerrald

We owe our freedom to great sacrifices made by men and women who preceded us in this life. They were no ordinary people. They showed great courage and took honourable stand against injustice and against all the odds. Many of them were less known to us, nevertheless their achievements were not less significant.  

Joseph Gerrald was born in the West Indies, educated in England and practiced as a lawyer in Philadelphia, USA. In London he became a leading member of the British Reform Movement advocating equality, free speech, regularly elected parliaments and universal rights to vote. He was one of the 'Scottish Political Martyrs' tried for sedition at Edinburgh in 1794 and sentenced to 14 years transportation to New South Wales.

While waiting to be transported to Australia, a government minister, Henry Dundas, offered to arrange for Gerrald to be given his freedom if he promised to stop advocating parliamentary reform. Gerrald refused and on 25th May he left Portsmouth aboard the Sovereign.

He died at Sydney on 16 March 1796 aged about 35, and was buried in this garden on the site of the First Farm, near this spot.

Joseph Gerrard burial spot, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
'For myself, my friend, whatever destiny awaits me, I am content. The cause which I have embraced has taken deep root, and must, I feel, ultimately triumph. I have my reward. I see through the cheering vista of future events the overthrow of tyranny, and the permament establishment of benevolence and peace. It is as silent as the lapse of time, but as certain and inevitable.' 
Joseph Gerrard, 17 May 1795 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sensual Bruschetta

Bruschetta is my all time favourite light lunch dish. So easy to prepare in lazy summer afternoons, so healthy, and so Mediterranean, I keep making them every time with a twist.

Toast diagonally sliced Rustic bread with or without olives. Slice open one end of a garlic and rub on bread slices while they are hot. Dice Roma tomatoes , and avocado, throw them randomly on bread slices. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil. Optionally, add humous and black olives on the side.

Make no mistake this is a sensual dish. Tomatoes will fall, your hands and face will be soaked in oil. But that's the way it is, like quality sex.